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21st November 2023

Health leaders call on MPs to oppose new oil and gas

A joint letter from health professionals to members of all political parties, calls on them to say no to new oil and gas.

In August, we wrote to the Prime Minister to highlight the deep concern felt by health professionals regarding the impact of heatwaves, air pollution and extreme weather events caused by climate change on health and our health service. We also highlighted the well-established fact that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change and that we are already seeing the significant health costs this has at every stage of life, from increasing risk of pregnancy complications, more children suffering respiratory conditions, and more people over the age of 65 suffering strokes and dying too soon.

We urged the Prime Minister to withdraw the decision to issue new licences for North Sea oil and gas, in order to protect health, and felt disappointed and despondent by the announcement just a few weeks later that consent for the Rosebank Oilfield had been granted. We condemn this decision.

United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called for an urgent transition to renewable energy. In a statement directed to G20 leaders, he said, “You cannot claim to be green while your plans and projects undermine the 2050 net zero target and ignore the major emissions cuts that must occur this decade.”

Any new oil and gas projects undermine this net zero target and weaken the UK’s leadership on climate change just when true commitment cannot be delayed. However, in 2020-21, the government committed significantly more resources to support fossil-fuel-based energy than clean energy sources, and the Climate Change Committee has reported that emissions from refineries and UK oil and gas production increased from 2021 to 2022. It downgraded the government’s progress on renewables due to the lack of a credible strategy for decarbonising electricity supply by 2035.

We urge MPs of all parties to turn this around and say no to new oil and gas. To shift the current position of issuing licences and consent for new oil fields to one of leadership in the rapid transition to renewable energy, combined with an ambitious programme of retrofitting and insulation in all homes and public buildings to reduce fuel consumption and cost for consumers. As well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, such actions will create jobs, improve health, and if done the right way through targeted subsidies, can alleviate fuel poverty. A just transition away from fossil fuels will also improve the UK’s national energy security.

Say no to new oil and gas to protect our health today and for our children.


Dr Richard Smith CBE FMedSci, Chair UK Health Alliance on Climate Change

Dr Elaine Mulcahy, Director UK Health Alliance on Climate Change

Rachel Armitage, Managing Director, RCNi

Prof Mike Wang, Chair, Association of Clinical Psychologists UK

Professor Kevin Fenton, President, Faculty of Public Health UK

Dr Ranee Thakar, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Dr David Pencheon, Hon Professor, Health and Sustainable Development, Exeter

Tracy Nicholls, Chief Executive, College of Paramedics

Prof Gillian Mead, President, British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians

Professor Claire Anderson, President, Royal Pharmaceutical Society 

Professor Mike Tipton, Policy Committee Chair, The Physiological Society 

Dr Katrina Davies, General Practitioner and a director of Greener Practice CIC

Isabel Clarke, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Professor Ramesh Arasaradnam, Academic Vice President, Royal College of Physicians 

Dr Katie Vinen, President Elect, United Kingdom Kidney Association.  

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners 

Dr Latifa Patel, Chair, BMA Representative Body